Sun, Sea, and Scars

Spring and summer. Flowers start to bloom, leaves grow back on trees, the sky is blue again and the days last longer. Hats and scarves are packed away and are replaced by shorts, t-shirts, sandals and sun hats. Everyone seems to be happier, people are planning barbecues and holidays, and everyone talks about how lovely it is now the weather’s warmer.

But for those who have visible scars on their bodies from self-harm, all of these things can cause dread instead of excitement.

Not everyone who has experienced self-harm will have visible marks on their bodies, for a variety of reasons. But for those who do, regardless of how old those scars are, the warmer months can be a real challenge.

Imagine having tattoos depicting the most distressing and vulnerable parts of your life. Not only would they be permanent reminders of your pain, but they’re open access; available for everyone else to see too. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers… all having a direct window into your past. And all you have to do for them to gain that access is to wear anything which shows your skin. T-shirts, shorts, skirts, swimsuits… pretty much all summery clothes.

I personally have a really difficult relationship with my own scars. My summer mornings are spent analysing what I can wear that day, based on who I’m with, what I’ll be doing, what the temperature will be, if there’s a breeze, whether I’ll be inside/outside, etc. And then my summer days are either spent feeling vulnerable and self-conscious of my scars on show, or feeling uncomfortably warm and smiling politely when people ask “aren’t you too hot wearing that?”.

Self-harm isn’t something that I do any more, but it remains a big part of my life due to the permanent remnants on my body. And this part of self-harm, how it affects your life afterwards, doesn’t get spoken about enough. The grieving, processing, and acceptance that needs to happen following recovery.

If any of this resonates with you, please be reassured that you are not alone. I know seeing everyone’s happy summer photos on social media can really make you feel that way, but I hope this blog post helps you to feel seen and heard.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, whether that’s to show your scars, hide them away, or a mixture of the two – we are here for you. At Harmless, we truly understand the challenges summer brings, and we’re here to navigate these warmer seasons alongside you.

Love, Anonymous staff member at Harmless x

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